March 25, 2014 (ATN)
– Protesters in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok are planning another mass
march this Saturday in opposition of convicted criminal, fugitive,
accused mass murderer, billionaire, autocrat Thaksin Shinawatra and his
proxy regime. Protesters have been carrying out demonstrations
continuously since late October 2013, including a lengthy “Occupy Bangkok” campaign preceding sham elections that saw 7 massive encampments across the city bring its major avenues to a standstill for weeks.
The elections resulted in an unprecedented nationwide boycott of the polls,
where over half of all eligible Thai voters refused to cast their
ballots. Of those that did, many chose to deface their ballots or mark
“no vote” in protest of both the regime and the democratic process it
has hijacked and hidden behind now for nearly a year of political
division and national instability.
What Did Thaksin Shinawatra Do?
- In the late 1990’s, Thaksin was an adviser to notorious private equity firm, the Carlyle Group.
He pledged to his foreign contacts that upon taking office, he would
still serve as a “matchmaker” between the US equity fund and Thai
businesses. It would represent the first of many compromising conflicts
of interest that would undermine Thailand’s sovereign under his rule.
was Thailand’s prime minister from 2001-2006. Has since dominated the
various reincarnations of his political party – and still to this day runs the country by proxy, via his nepotist appointed sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
- In 2001 he privatized Thailand’s resources and infrastructure including the nation’s oil conglomerate PTT – much to Wall Street’s delight.
- In 2003, he would commit Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq, despite widespread protests from both the Thai military and the public. Thaksin would also allow the CIA to use Thailand for its abhorrent rendition program.
- Also in 2003, he initiated what he called a “war on drugs.” Nearly 3,000 were extrajudicially murdered in the streets over the course of just 90 days.
It would later turn out that more than half of those killed had nothing
to even do with the drug trade. In this act alone, Thaksin earned
himself the title as worst human rights offender in Thai history, and
still he was far from finished.
2004, he oversaw the killing of 85 protesters in a single day during
his mishandled, heavy-handed policy in the country’s troubled deep
south. The atrocity is now referred to as the “Tak Bai incident.”
- Also in 2004, Thaksin attempted to ramrod through a US-Thailand Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) without parliamentary approval, backed by the US-ASEAN Business Council who just before the 2011 elections that saw Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra brought into power, hosted the leaders of Thaksin’s “red shirt” “United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship” (UDD) in Washington DC.
- Throughout his administration he was notorious for intimidating the press, and crushing dissent. According to Amnesty International, 18 human rights defenders were either assassinated or disappeared during his first term in office. Among them was human rights activist and lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit. He was last seen in 2004 being arrested by police and never seen again.
- Also throughout Thaksin’s administration, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claimed in its report, “Attacks on the Press 2004: Thailand” that the regime was guilty of financial interference, legal intimidation, and coercion of the press.
the 2006 coup that toppled his regime, Thaksin has been represented by
US corporate-financier elites via their lobbying firms including, Kenneth Adelman of the Edelman PR firm (Freedom House, International Crisis Group,PNAC), James Baker of Baker Botts (CFR, Carlyle Group), Robert Blackwill (CFR) of Barbour Griffith & Rogers (BGR), Kobre & Kim, Bell Pottinger (and here) and currently Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners (Chatham House).
April of 2009 gunmen would fire over 100 rounds into the vehicle of
anti-Thaksin activist, protest leader, and media mogul Sondhi
Limthongkul in a broad daylight assassination attempt. He was injured but survived.
- On April 10, 2010, heavily armed professional militants deployed by Thaksin Shianwatra and his “red shirt” front targeted and assassinated Colonel Romklao Thuwatham who was at the time commanding crowd control operations near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. Thaksin’s “red shirts” would go on to clash with the military for weeks before ending their riot with mass city-wide looting and arson.
- In August of 2013, businessman and outspoken Thaksin opponent Ekkayuth Anchanbutr was abducted and murdered.
mid to late 2013, an ill-conceived vote-buying rice subsidy program
instituted by the regime began to unravel. Last summer promised subsidy
prices were slashed, and eventually payments were halted altogether.
Many rice farmers – all of whom have already turned in their rice – have
not been paid for now well over half a year. Destitution and
desperation among the farmers, once stalwart supporters of the regime, have sent thousands of them to Bangkok to join the anti-regime protests thus shattering the Western narrative of “class division” across Thai politics.
- Most recently, the regime has been executing a premeditated, openly declared terror campaign against anti-regime protesters, including grenade attacks that have left innocent men, women, and children maimed and dead.
What Have His “Red Shirt” Followers Done?
In addition to carrying out armed
insurrection in both 2009 and 2010, Thaksin’s “red shirts” have carried
out a campaign of violence, terror, and intimidation designed to keep
Thailand’s “silent majority,” silent for years:
Image: While the regime
and its Western backers claim violence in 2010 was the result of a
brutal, unprovoked military crackdown on “unarmed” protesters, in
reality Thaksin Shinawatra deployed some 300 armed mercenaries onto the streets
to augment his “red shirt” supporters. Weeks of gun battles involving
the above pictured “men in black,” would result in 92 deaths.
- In 2008, red shirts shot/hacked to death by machetes an opposition community radio host’s father, after pro-Thaksin radio hosts mobilized supporters to
surround his house and the father attempted to flee. Regime demagogue,
Kanyapak Maneejak (DJ Aom), when asked about the incident during a “City Life Chiang Mai” interview, claimed, “the reds there all came following their hearts.”
2009, in addition to large-scale street violence visited upon Bangkok
which saw two shop keepers shot while trying to stop red shirts from
looting their businesses, red shirts would violently disrupt an HIV/AIDS
awareness march organized by homosexual & public health
activists. “Out in Perth” reported in their article, “Chiang Mai Pride Shut Down by Protests as Police Watch On,”
that organizers were locked inside a building while red shirts began
throwing rocks and yelling abuse through megaphones. Police looked on
until organizers decided to call off the event.
- Also in 2009, Bangkok’s English paper, “Bangkok Post” would publish a report titled, “Rak Chiang Mai 51: A pride or a disgrace for Chiang Mai?” which would describe in detail the red shirts’ methods of violence and intimidation.
the most recent political crisis, red shirts have frequently surrounded
the homes of opponents, threatening and intimidating them from speaking
out against the regime. This includes the home of Chiang Mai’s Cultural Council president, teachers and parents of Regina Coeli College, and violently attacking a peaceful protest held at Chiang Mai University’s art museum and again during a march held several weeks later.
Red-shirt supporters assaulted the monk near the National
Anti-Corruption Commission office on Monday. (Photo by Thiti
- Just this week, mobs of “red shirts” attacked a Buddhist monk
who passed by their blockade of the National Anti-Corruption Commission
(NACC) building. Several of the offenders have turned themselves in to
Why Are Elections Currently Impossible?
The regime and its Western backers
insist that the solution to the current political impasse is an
election. Of course, this is impossible because the current regime is
openly run by Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive who
was neither on the ballot nor even in the country during last elections,
and will simply resume control of the nation after any future election
in which his proxy party wins.
Thailand is technically under the premiership of Thaksin’s sister,
Yingluck Shinawatra, by his party’s own admission, Thaksin is still
literally running the country. The election campaign slogan for the last
general election in 2011 was literally, “Thaksin Thinks, Puea Thai
Does,” Puea Thai being his political party. Forbes would report in their
article, “Thaksin in Exile: Advising Sister, Digging for Gold,” that:
Regarding his behind-the-scenes role
in the party and policy, he is not shy: “I am the one who thinks. Like
our slogan during the campaign, Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts.”
The New York Times admitted in an early 2013 article titled, “In Thailand, Power Comes With Help From Skype,” that:
For the past year and a half, by the
party’s own admission, the most important political decisions in this
country of 65 million people have been made from abroad, by a former
prime minister who has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape
The country’s most famous
fugitive,Thaksin Shinawatra, circles the globe in his private jet,
chatting with ministers over his dozen cellphones, texting over various
social media platforms and reading government documents e-mailed to him
from civil servants, party officials say.
The NYT piece would also report:
“He’s the one who formulates the
Pheu Thai policies,” said Noppadon Pattama, a senior official in Mr.
Thaksin’s party who also serves as his personal lawyer. “Almost all the
policies put forward during the last election came from him.”
Image: The New York Times openly admits that
There is no question that an accused
mass murderer and convicted criminal hiding abroad from a 2 year jail
sentence, multiple arrest warrants, and a long list of pending court
cases, is illegally running Thailand by proxy. Being unelected, Thaksin
Shinawatra is by all accounts a dictator, and his “government” a
regime, however cleverly they try to dress it up.
in any other country featuring a convicted criminal openly running a
contending party would be unacceptable – and in Thailand as well, they
are equally unacceptable until after reforms that prevent such a
scenario from occurring again.
The Illusion of Thaksin Shinawatra’s “Popularity”
While the regime and its Western
backers continue to claim they represent the majority of Thai people, it
should be remembered that the final tally conducted in 2011 by Thailand’s Election Commission showed that Thaksin Shinawatra’s proxy political party received 15.7 million votes out of the estimated 32.5 million voter turnout (turnout
of approx. 74%). This gave Thaksin’s proxy party a mere 48% of those
who cast their votes on July 3rd (not even half), and out of all
eligible voters, only a 35% mandate to actually “lead” the country.
In a 2010 Asian Foundation report titled, “Survey Findings Challenge Notion of a Divided Thailand,” it
was revealed that a meager 7% of Thailand’s population identify
themselves as being “red,” with another 7% describing themselves as
“leaning toward red.” The survey also revealed that by far, most Thais
constitute what is called the “silent majority.” The survey included
multiple questions that explained the leanings of this silent majority.
instance, regarding violence that erupted when Thaksin Shinawatra
attempted to seize back power in 2010 with large street mobs augmented
by armed mercenaries, only 37% blamed the government, 40% squarely
blamed Thaksin, 4% held both sides responsible, and the remaining 19%
weren’t sure. 62% found the army (which ousted Thaksin in 2006, and
restored order in Bangkok both in 2009 and 2010 after pro-Thaksin mobs
turned violent) as an important independent institution that has helped
safeguard and stabilize the country.
Up from 62% the year before, the public perception of the military as
an important independent institution stood at 63%. Even in in the
regime’s rural strongholds, support stood at 61%. The only group that
did not support the military, was the regime’s tiny “red” minority, but
even among them, 30% still supported the army. With only 7% of the
population identifying themselves as “red,” the illusion of Thaksin
Shinawatra’s popularity crumbles under statistical scrutiny.
Toward the End Game
protesters will continue to defy the illegitimate proxy regime of
Thaksin Shinawatra until it crumbles under a withering undermining of
legitimacy, and operational capacity to administer the country. The
regime is expected to continue its use of violence and terrorism in
attempt to intimidate protesters, but its fear of spurring
the military to intervene means that it most likely will never be able
to muster enough force to break the growing momentum of dissent against
For now, protesters are well entrenched
in the streets and can easily continue to remain there for months to come. There is a golden
opportunity for the protesters to form a “shadow government” to begin
administering areas they have now retaken from the regime. Administering
these areas publicly and attending to the needs of businesses and
residents who may be affected by the protests would further undermine
the legitimacy and credibility of the current regime – who already
spends much of its time hundreds of miles to the north in
the Thai city of Chiang Mai.
As reported many times before, current
anti-regime protesters are not trying to end “democracy.” They are
simply trying to end the abuse of the democratic process by an overt
criminal. Elections must be carried only after Thaksin Shinawatra and
his entire political machine have been safely and completely dismantled.